Saturday, January 17, 2009

16 & 17 January 1955 "Head transplants, Shoes, Vintage Pets, and Starch"

From TIME magazine 17 jauary 1955:
Encouraged by his successes (of dog heart transplants), Dr. Demikhov tried the reverse operation. He removed most of the body of a small puppy and grafted the head and forelegs to the neck of an adult dog. The big dog's heart, as Blok tells the story, pumped blood enough for both heads. When the multiple dog regained consciousness after the operation, the puppy's head woke up and yawned. The big head gave it a puzzled look and tried at first to shake it off.
The puppy's head kept its own personality. Though handicapped by having almost no body of its own, it was as playful as any other puppy. It growled and snarled with mock fierceness or licked the hand that caressed it. The host-dog was bored by all this, but soon became reconciled to the unaccountable puppy that had sprouted out of its neck. When it got thirsty, the puppy got thirsty and lapped milk eagerly. When the laboratory grew hot, both host-dog and puppy put out their tongues and panted to cool off. After six days of life together, both heads and the common body died. (My husband is skeptical of this story and as the article contained no photos, we can only guess at its accuracy. It does show, however, that in this atomic age in which I am living we are working already on how to make us all live longer and healthier lives.)

Here is the cover of Sports Illustrated for today. It looks like there are no bikini clad Brazillian models yet, but bull fighting seems of interest. I know that toreador pants were quite popluar and I think they are basically capri pants. I remember an episode of I Love Lucy where she mentions toreador pants.

Well, I have four new pair of shoes that I am quite excited about. It does a 55 housewife's heart good to take off the apron and adore her feet now and then.
It seems that mid 50's shoes have both rounded toe and fuller heel, as well as the pointed toe and kitten heel that really became de rigeur by 1960. I tried my best to find what I felt looked vintage. I have a large foot (size 10) and it is hard to find vintage shoes in this size. I found three pair of new shoes and one actual vintage pair.

I love this pair. They have a low heel, and though they have the pointy toe, are rather comfortable. They have a nice sparkle to them so they could go to evening as well. They also look good with my grey wool circle skirt I recently made.

I was worried that this heel was maybe too modern, but it has a very vintage feel, I think. They are rather tall so these will be for lunch with the ladies where I have to wear them no longer than a few hours.

I think these look right out of the magazine vintage. They are very comfortable and I wore them ALL day yesterday. You can actually see a little of the salt form being out in the snow with them. The little laces are adorable. I greeted hubby last night wearing these with my full grey skirt and my new full red apron. It looked adorable, and I forgot a picture, but will wear it again and remember to get one.
These are actual vintage shoes and similiar to another pair I have. These may, in fact, be mid to late 60's shoes, but I did find this toe and heel in my mid 50's magazines, so I am unsure. I do know that I love them and they are comfortable for vacuuming in. I picture a fitted red suit for these or a fun red cotton full sundress for summer. I am not sure if these need to stay in my closet until after memorial day, as they are white. But, they also are red, so not sure how the rule of white shoes applies to these. I would probably guess this would be summer shoe what do you think?

I found this great article in my "American Magazine" from 55. It is about this bird hating individual who falls for a parakeet and gets and keeps one as a pet. I guess after the war the importing of birds was relaxed and more Parakeets or Budgies were suddenly available. They became THE pet to have. I love this paragraph from the article where the author quotes one of the largest budgie breeders:
"Mr. Van Wiseman says that men often get some emotional satisfaction from budgies that they dont get from their wives."
The article was quite cute and on further study I found that a parakeet in the home was rather the normal thing in 1950s. Now, I don't want anyone to think that I got my cute new pet as a prop to my experiment. I have often thought of having a parakeet. I had a friend who had one that was so tame it would sit on her cereal bowl as she ate. So, I figured this would be a good opportunity to have one. She, for we think she is a she, sits in our dinning room now. That way she is present at all meals and I move her into my sitting room in the evening when I am on the computer and reading, so she is near me. She is a darling. We are uncertain of her name, as of yet. We thought Peg after Peggy Lee and it does sound rather 50's. Madge or Midge was also toyed with for their vintage sound. I think a 50's housewife may have named it something like cuteypie or sweetie, but I don't know if I can stomach that type of name. Any ideas for names? Maybe if I can get at least three suggestions for names from my readers, we could do a poll here and the winner will become her moniker?

I just won these two books on ebay and am really excited to get them. They are even published in 1955, so how perfect. I can imagine having got them when I purchased my little darling. I bought her from a breeder not a pet shop, as I wanted one hand raised as I have heard they are much easier to train. Here she is, the little darling.

This is her home in the corner of the dinning room. The cage is vintage, though I believe it is from the 1920s. I am on the lookout for a cute 1950's plastic version.

Here is the little darling sitting atop my pen cup on my desk in my sitting room. You can see my guilty afternoon pleasure of an empty cake plate and a half-full pot of tea. You can just make out the picket fence out the window: that is going to be whitewashed this summer. Part of my year is going to be gardening and doing up the house with some 1950's era decorating and gardening books I am getting. No, there won't be any pink flamingos! I don't think I would have had them then. I would be a more 'early american' decorator than the very modish styles of the day.

Now, my laundry challenge is going to be to try and incorporate starch into my monday laundry routine. This is largely due to the great blog "Destination 1940" which I adore. Her list of various breakfasts and laundry from that decade have inspired me to incorporate starch. Honestly, to not have and use starch would probably be unheard of in 1955. I do understand all the adds for rayon and non-wrinkle fabrics in my 50's magazines. The amount of time I now spend on ironing is enough, but I will be adding the starching and I am sure I will be praying to the great scientists in the sky to hurry up and create polyester and any other unnatural fiber to lessen the ironing! I cannot find out when spray starch was first available on the market. Before spray starch was commercially made, it was powdered.

Here are two boxes of starch that I may purchase on ebay. I think the pink one might actually be from the 30's but I know that the second actually has a 1950s date on it. I am intriqued to use a product from that time. I often imagine that inanimate things take on a certain energy of their time. Maybe it is just my romantic notions, but to know it once graced the wall of a laundry room of that time drums up all sorts of imagery. I see its place of importance among the monday wash day. The trail of dirty play clothes marched by it and the endless 'sunday best' dresses and collars it graced. The crinolins it gave stiffness to and the pride it ellicted from it's happy owner. The idea that it will be resecitated from some attic box and instead of some decorative object on a collectors shelf, will, again, be applied with tentative strokes of the irons heat, as the houswife tries her best to make wrinkle-free and sharp and bright, her families clothes.
I did find this bit of info about starch interesting in a modern blog: "And what a funny thing to actually sell, as spray starch is really just corn starch and water. Get some Argo corn starch, mix it with water, buy a plastic atomizer, and you have starch for shirts."
I am not sure if this is true and perhaps in the 19th c., when brands and advertising were not as such a norm, the maids of the day did indeed make spray starch from such a recipe. An interesting aside: I found, while researching starch, that there is somewhat of a resurgance in its purchase now that so many have returned to natural fibers, as they need to be wrinkle-free. Hmmm, maybe we are all becoming the Benjamin Buttons of housework, where instead of physical aging backwards, we are in fact going backwards in the way in which we keep our homes, dress, and respond to the world.
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